Unsurprisingly, there was quite the excitement when The Ivy said they’d be making the trip down the M4 to show us West Country folk what proper sophistication looks like.
The Ivy has built up quite the name for itself in the past 100 years (woah) that it’s been a West End staple, and now the company are rolling out a few brasseries across other classy neighbourhoods, so we no longer have to make the trip to Big London if we want to experience the famous brand, loved by celebrities and thespians for decades.
First things first – this building is gorgeous. I turned into Eliza Doolittle for a moment with my impressed expletives when we walked through the door and I caught sight of the high ceilings and opulent decor.
We were greeted enthusiastically at the door and then ushered through to the grand Orangerie (that’s like a posh version of the conservatory your Uncle Dave got built when he had a win on the gee-gees), where we were given a few different menus to peruse (the wine list is just as comprehensive as you’d expect, with bottles starting at £19 and working their way up to a ballsy £230, should you ever want to really impress the in-laws).
After much deliberation (the A La Carte menu is a fairly huge) we settled on the chicken liver parfait and steak tartare for our starters. Both came out as generous portions, looked prim and proper and, most importantly, tasted very good indeed. The steak was clearly of a high quality, and there was a really pleasing amount of gherkin, capers and mustard – all the right balance. I’d have preferred less parsley, but Dan my dining companion (the Ant to my Dec, if you will) didn’t seem bothered by that.
My chicken liver parfait was light as a feather, just rich enough and accompanied by a lush fruity chutney and toasted bread – I polished the whole lot off and had to remember where I was before I mopped up the remaining dabs with my finger.
For our mains we went a bit off-piste – the menu at The Ivy isn’t there to break any new ground or dazzle you with foams, dust and mists; it’s a comforting mix of British classics, steaks and popular European dishes (although don’t expect classic prices – the shepherd’s pie is £13.50 and house burger a hefty £13.75), so rather than go for something too obvious, I opted for the duck curry, and my friend chose the swordfish with chimichurri.
Again I really approved of my dish – it arrived looking very appetising in a big bowl, and a quick swirl with my spoon showed that there was a lot of duck meat in that there curry. The sauce was warming and fragrant and also quite rich, so I didn’t finish the entire bowl. Very enjoyable though.
The Swordfish was a bit more of a mixed bag; it came plated with just a handful of rocket, its chimichurri sauce and a lemon for drizzling – good thing we’d ordered some sides – and something to be aware of when you’re choosing a £15.50 dish (although swordfish is always at the pricier end of the scale, to be fair). The fish looked a bit overcooked and dry for me, but again Dan was happy with his lot and particularly praised the tangy chimichurri.
A side of truffle & parmesan chips was very tasty indeed – I nabbed a fair few of these despite being so full from my curry, although bear in mind they are very truffly, so might not be a good match with everything on the menu.
Despite rapidly slipping into a food coma, we were advised by our waiter that we NEEDED to try their special dessert, the chocolate bombe – a mixture of texture and rich flavours, we were assured that we’d kick ourselves if we didn’t try it. So in the name or research, ladies and gentlemen, we persevered. And the picture below doesn’t do it justice, so take a look at this video of it instead.
We thoroughly enjoyed our evening at The Ivy Clifton Brasserie – it’s the sort of grand place that Clifton has wanted for a while, on a scale that only someone like Team Ivy can deliver. The service is attentive and ridiculously pleasant, the rooms are gorgeous, and the food is pleasing enough not to detract from any of the experience. You’re not going to go here for a culinary epiphany, you’re going here for The Ivy Experience, and on that front, it delivers.
As well as dinner, the brasserie also offers brunch, afternoon tea and an early evening set menu, although you could always just sit up at their bar and take in the surroundings if you’re not quite in a munching mood. I don’t think I’ll be a regular here, as I prefer my money to go further at one of Bristol’s local establishments, but if you’re in the mood to be spoilt and feel special, this has to be the hottest ticket in town right now.
The Ivy Clifton Brasserie
42-44 Caledonia Place
Disclaimer doodle: We received this dinner free of charge but that didn’t affect our opinions or have any impact on what we have written in this review – we also did not submit any copy in advance (because they probably would have asked us to take the reference to Ant & Dec and gee-gees out, to be fair). Cheers then!